| Boiling Point No. 21 - April 1990 |
INTERMEDIATE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT GROUP
The factors involved in fuel choice are many, complex and often in conflicting and only partially understood. The choices will generally involve a trade off between one undesirable and another, but nevertheless we should try to make them consciously rather than by default. Boiling Point will try to bring them to your attention, in so far as they affect stoves and the health of stove users which has been highlighted by Dr Kirk Smith.
Environmental issues remain very important to stoves work, although we now confront a very different set of issues than those originally perceived. This is because we're understanding more about the global environment and about the micro-environments of stove use. Doing useful stoves work in the future will require keeping both our head in the clouds of global geochemical cycles and our ears to the ground level needs and ideas of the poor.
Stoves, Energy and the Environment
Concern for the environment was one of the major inspirations for research and development work on stoves. One of die great paradoxes of stoves work is that, the more we learn about people, fuel and cooking, the less we realise we've understood about the environment and all its implications for stove development.
Initially, one environment issue dominated stoves work - saving trees. Today this issue is considerably downplayed, or even debunked. At the same time, other matters such as the household environment and its smoke, heat, stove height, fire light and stove stability are receiving greater attention. This is a positive step, giving greater attention to poor people's environmental needs and concerns. But these "micro" environmental needs are complex, and change as local resource and environment situations change. This makes it difficult for any one stove design to meet such needs over a wide area, and makes it essential to use local skills and expertise in planning land implementing stove programmes.
Most-recently, as-the global consequences of increased fossil fuel use are better understood, a new "macro" environment issue has emerged to confront stoves work. As Professor Mao points out in this tissue, because of the contribution of forests to reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, using wood in cooking not only adds to C02 output, but also reduces the environment's ability to convert CO: into organic matter. Burning coal and oil products produces CO: but in substituting for using forest fuels maintains the earth's carbon reprocessing capacity. This factor must be included in calculating the environmental costs and benefits of cooking fuel alternatives.
Joins ITDG To Produce Boiling Point
Future editions of Boiling Point will be produced jointly by GATE/GTZ and ITDG. They will combine their resources and circulation lists so as to reach a wider public. The former German-language GATE/GTZ HERDRUNDBRIEF will be phased out.
GATE/GTZ articles and reports on stove project work will be integrated into Boiling Point and a representative of GATE/GTZ will join the editorial panel. Boiling Point's established editorial policy will be maintained and the scope of its information will be enlarged.